GPS, cell phone, satellite phone, avalanche transceiver, emergency tracker, iPod, digital camera – staying connected these days seems to have little to do with feet to ground or soul to Mother Nature and more about the latest greatest tech toy.
But some of these devices can save lives, others allow you to find your way and some can help record your journey. These instruments often allow us to further, sometimes safer than ever before. They are all powerful… that is, until the batteries die.
Which started me thinking about our general reliance on technology in the backcountry. I don’t use a GPS yet for backcountry travel, but I can appreciate the advantages it offers. How reliant are you on a GPS for route-finding? Do you have the skills to read a map and use a compass should you run out of power or the unit slips from your sweaty hands and tumbles down a cliff?
We may not carry a satellite phone (as I’m sure most people don’t) for our forays into the wilds, but we have started packing an emergency tracking unit that allows us to send a satellite SOS should something go terribly wrong.
Truth be told, the real reason we carry it is not for the off-chance that something will go wrong (careful trip planning, knowledge and skills help reduce the chances of that happening), but more for the opportunity to contact family and/or friends and let them know we might be a little late for dinner as we’re still soaking up the view from the ridge or mountaintop.
How reliant are you on a cell phone, SAT phone or emergency tracker for rescue should something go wrong? Do you have wilderness first aid skills to cope with an accident or injury if something goes wrong?
These questions require honest answers as more and more outdoor users are becoming increasingly reliant on technology to pull themselves out of difficult situations.
Technology is great, when it works, but don’t pass up any opportunity to brush up on basic skills whenever you can, because… sorry, the battery is going dead on my laptop. I’ll write more on this later!